Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in the heart of Atlanta (close to the airport) in a small apartment. When my friends fly into the city for the weekend, they will usually ask to stay at my home, even though my space is small and it will inconvenience me. I am seriously considering charging them to stay at my place as often as they do; for obvious reasons, I am hesitant to ask. My friends live in D.C., LA and Florida, so their flights will often connect in Atlanta. I understand that it’s convenient for them, but I would feel more comfortable if they paid to use my space and amenities. Do you think this is too extreme? What would you suggest I do? -- Hartsfield Hotel

DEAR HARTSFIELD HOTEL: Rather than requiring that your friends pay you for the privilege of staying at your home, which could ring wrong, just tell them no. “No” is a complete sentence. You do not have to agree to serve as a hotel for your friends. Instead, you can welcome them to visit you occasionally when the purpose of their visit is to be with YOU.

If they say that they really can’t afford to stay at a hotel and they want to come there and spend time during their layover, explain that it is inconvenient for you -- and costly. If they continue to press, this is when you can request some kind of fee for replenishing your amenities and cleaning your house. That seems fair.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriend’s firm belief in certain conspiracy theories is starting to make me resent her. She and I have been together for about a year now; when we first met, COVID-19 was just beginning to spread. She told me at the height of the pandemic that she thought the virus was caused by 5G phone signals (which is ridiculous), and at first I would laugh it off. Now, a year later, I’ve lost two relatives and a close friend to COVID. She still insists that COVID is some sort of conspiracy, even after watching me grieve because of it. Her theories are offensive and harmful, and I don’t know how to approach the situation without causing a huge fight. How should I approach this? I don’t want us to break up. -- COVID Conspiracy

DEAR COVID CONSPIRACY: You need to have a real and raw conversation with your girlfriend. Apart from her conspiracy theory beliefs, she has shown herself to be insensitive to you and your family’s losses. Tell her that this hurts your feelings and has to stop. Further, point out that her extreme views make you uncomfortable.

You can agree to talk about anything with your girlfriend, but I encourage you both to do your research and come with fact-based information, not oft-repeated theories. There is a lot of research out there about COVID-19, what it is and how it affects human beings. You may want to share what you have learned with her, from reputable sources. But in the end, you will have to decide if you can live with someone who fundamentally doesn’t share your values. Sometimes things can be overlooked -- not always.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)